Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would finally add user profiles to its Prime Video service. At long last, you can separate profiles for each family member (up to six) so that your Watchlists and recommendations don’t get mixed up. It’s a simple feature that should really have been there from the start, and is a stark reminder of how backwards and lacking the Prime Video experience is compared to the competition.
And that’s a shame, considering how much money Amazon is sinking into original content. Take the company’s investment in the Lord of the Rings prequels, for example. Production has now dragged on for over two years and will likely cost up to a billion dollars. There’s also the recently announced FalloutTV series by the makers of “Westworld.” Amazon will have no shortage of high-profile programing. But, if it wants to convert subscribers and keep them, it needs to bring the service into the present.
Amazon’s first video service was introduced in 2006 as Amazon Unbox, which allowed users to rent or buy TV shows and movies similar to iTunes. Then, long after Netflix incorporated streaming into its business, Amazon entered the subscription video market in 2011. The company knew it couldn’t compete with Netflix in terms of content, so to draw subscribers in, CEO Jeff Bezos decided to add the service to the company’s Prime free shipping program.
Since then, Amazon’s Prime Video platform has evolved into three parts: the aforementioned option to rent or buy titles, a service that lets you stream thousands of shows and movies (as long as you have Prime membership), and Prime Video Channels which lets you subscribe to third-party services like CBS All Access or Britbox and watch them directly on Amazon’s video platform.
If that sounds a little confusing, well, it is. And that confusion is reflected in Prime Video’s utter mess of an interface. On the home page, you’ll frequently see recommendations and ads for all of the above right next to each other. In mine, I see a promotional banner at the top that advertises Amazon Originals like “Hanna” and “Upload”, the movie Ford v Ferrari via an HBO Prime Video Channel subscription, and a “Prime Member Deals” page where I can buy shows and movies for up to 50 percent off. Underneath that are carousels for Britbox, Acorn TV, CBS All Access, and it isn’t until I scroll all the way down to the fourth carousel that I see recommendations for Amazon’s Original shows.
Putting all of these products together leads to so much clutter that it is near impossible to figure out what is what. Sometimes I’d be interested in a TV show only to find out that it’s only available if I rent or buy it. Sometimes that show is only available on a Prime Video Channel that I haven’t subscribed to. And this bait-and-switch feeling is apparently quite common. According to a study done last year by analyst firm MoffetNathanson, almost 30 percent of the most popular titles on Amazon Prime Video aren’t actually included in a Prime subscription. The analysts said that there’s a “high level of brand confusion when it comes to streaming content” and that “consumers are confusing the streaming service for the Amazon video store.”
Another problem with such a cluttered interface is that discovering new shows is difficult. Essentially, the UI is a tweaked version of Amazon’s retail storefront, apparently designed to bombard you with as much content and choice as possible. It often leaves the user confused and overwhelmed. Compare that to Netflix, on the other hand, which is clean, orderly, and places all of the popular and recommended content at the very top, with no need to scroll through carousels from third-party services.
In a way, it isn’t surprising that Amazon has treated its Prime Video offering like yet another storefront. Amazon has made no secret of the fact that it’s really using its video store as a way to entice more people to shop. Amazon’s “Making The Cut” is perhaps the most extreme example of this, as it’s really just a giant ad for the company’s e-commerce site disguised as a reality show. “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes,” Bezos said at the Code Conference in 2016. That’s why Bezos and co. have actively sought to find critical darlings for its Amazon Originals.
But those accolades don’t always bring in results. According to documents uncovered by Reuters, Amazon’s viewership numbers aren’t particularly high for its top shows. “Transparent,” a flagship series about a transgender parent and her family, fell to 1.3 million viewers in its third season despite winning eight Primetime Emmy Awards. “Good Girls Revolt,” another critically-acclaimed show, only had a total US viewership of 1.6 million in its debut.
In order to bring in more viewers, Amazon should think about giving its user interface a total makeover. At the very least, it should make it clear that its Prime Video subscription, video store and Prime Video Channels are separate from each other. That would go a long way to reducing confusion and making it less likely for viewers to mistake one for the other. From there, the company should invest in careful curation of its home page so that popular titles and recommendations get prominent placing. It wouldn’t hurt Amazon to borrow a page from Netflix and organize different carousels by genre as well.
This move will be especially welcome when coupled with high-caliber content like the Lord of the Rings prequels and Fallout series. If Amazon wants HBO-level content in order to be taken seriously, then it also needs a storefront and a homepage that reflects that sentiment. A flagship series combined with an interface overhaul that highlights Amazon Originals could be exactly what the company needs to take on its rivals.
One could argue that Amazon doesn’t necessarily need to clean up its act. After all, it has over 150 million Prime members, which is second only to Netflix, which has nearly 183 million subscribers. But the streaming wars have heated up in recent years with the arrival of new upstarts like Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock and Apple TV+. Disney+ in particular have gained a surprising number of subscribers — almost 54.5 million — in just under a year. It’s to Amazon’s benefit to remain ahead of the curve, not just in new content, but also in how its users find it.
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Akron, Ohio-based RVShare has seen sharp growth in demand amid the pandemic, as more would-be travelers seek socially distanced options for hitting the road. Founded in 2013, the company matches RV owners with prospective renters, filtering by location, price and vehicle types.
Previously, RVShare had raised $50 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data, from Tritium Partners. The company is one of several players in the RV rental space, and competes alongside Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV marketplace that has raised $75 million in venture funding.
BrightFarms closes on $100M: Indoor farming company BrightFarms said it secured more than $100 million in debt and new equity capital to support expansion plans. The Series E round of funding was led by Cox Enterprises, which now owns a majority stake in the company, and includes a follow-on investment from growth equity firm Catalyst Investors.
Anyscale inks $40M: Anyscale, the Berkeley-based company behind the Ray open source project for building applications, announced $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investor NEA led the round and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital and Foundation Capital. The new funding brings Anyscale’s total funding to more than $60 million.
Klar deposits $15M: Mexican fintech Klar closed on $15 million in Series A funding, led by Prosus Ventures, with participation from new investor International Finance Corporation and existing investors Quona Capital, Mouro Capital and Acrew. The round brings total funding raised to approximately $72 million since the company was founded in 2019. The funds are intended to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs.
Blustream bags $3M: After-sale customer engagement company Blustream said it raised $3 million in seed funding for product usage data and digital transformation efforts for physical goods companies via the Blustream Product Experience Platform. York IE led the round of funding for the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company with additional support from existing investors.Pillar secures another $1.5M: Pillar, a startup that helps families protect and care for their loved ones, raised $1.5 million in a seed extension to close at $7 million, The round was led by Kleiner Perkins.
Google rejects DOJ antitrust arguments: In the wake of a widely anticipated U.S. Justice Department antitrust suit against Google, the search giant disputed the charges in a statement, maintaining that: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
Facebook said to test Nextdoor rival: Facebook is reportedly testing a service similar to popular neighborhood-focused social Nextdoor. Called Neighborhoods, the feature reportedly suggests local neighborhood groups to join on Facebook.
Online shopping has become the norm for most people in 2020, even coaxing traditional retail brands to up their presence to stay competitive. However, now that shoppers can’t see and touch products like they used to, e-commerce discovery has become a crucial element for customer acquisition and retention.
Enter Syte, an Israel-based company that touts creating the world’s first product discovery platform that utilizes the senses, such as visual, text and voice, and then leverages visual artificial intelligence and next-generation personalization to create individualized and memorable customer experiences, Syte co-founder and CEO Ofer Fryman told Crunchbase News.
This brings the company’s total fundraising to $71 million since its inception in 2015. That includes a $21.5 million Series B, also led by Viola, in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.
Fryman intends for the new funding to be put to work on product enhancements and geographic expansion. Syte already has an established customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will now focus expansion in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.
Meanwhile, Syte has grown 22 percent quarter over quarter, as well as experienced a 38 percent expansion of its customer base since the beginning of 2020.
“Since we crossed $1 million annual recurring revenue, we have been tripling revenue while also becoming more efficient,” Fryman said. “We can accelerate growth as well as build an amazing technology and solution for a business that needs it right now. We plan to grow further, and even though our SaaS metrics are excellent right now, our goal is to improve them.”
Anshul Agarwal, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, said Syte was an attractive investment due in part to its unique technology.
“They have a deep-learning system and have created a new category, product discovery that will enable online shopping in a way we never had the ability to do before,” Agarwal said. “The product market fit was also unique. We believe in the strong execution by the team and the rapid growth in SaaS. We looked at many different companies, and the SaaS metrics that Syte showed are the strongest we’ve seen in a while.”
Denver, CO, October 21, 2020 – OTC PR WIRE – GenTech Holdings, Inc. (OTC PINK: GTEH) (“GenTech” or the “Company”), an emerging leader in the high-end Premium Coffee (www.secretjavas.com), Hemp Wellness (www.hakunasupply.com) and Functional Foods (www.SINFITnutrition.com) marketplaces, along with its SINFIT Nutrition brand (“SINFIT”), is excited to announce that the Company has signed a new marketing, sales, and distribution agreement (the “Agreement”) with TruLife Distribution (“TruLife”) (TruLifeDist.com), a leader in marketing, distribution, compliance, e-commerce, and advisory services in the Functional Foods marketplace. The main focus of the new Agreement will be to accelerate the growth of e-commerce sales of SINFIT products, particularly over the Amazon.com platform.
TruLife provides direct access to sales on Amazon, Walmart, Rakuten, Wish, TopHatter, and other top e-commerce platforms, allowing clients to instantly list, ship, and sell products through any major platform, with an experienced team of experts and a proven track record of success in brand placement and digital sales strategies.
“We have already demonstrated a significant & expansive growth curve since taking control of the SINFIT brand in June,” commented Harold Vaca, VP Domestic Sales of SINFIT. “But the vast majority of that growth has been driven by large purchase orders from major distribution partners, both domestic and international. We are also committed to aggressively pursuing end-market consumer direct purchases through our e-commerce footprint, which will provide additional growth and diversify our cash flow ecosystem, making our overall strategy less dependent upon any one source of demand, while driving further growth in total sales.”
Management notes that e-commerce sales represent a sizeable portion of overall retail sales growth worldwide, with more than $3.5 trillion in online sales accounting for over 14% of total pre-pandemic global retail sales. Since the onset of the global health crisis, that ratio has shifted decisively further in favor of e-commerce sales, which is not likely to entirely revert back upon the advent of a viable and widely accessible vaccine.
Vaca added, “We have seen an epic process of market penetration for e-commerce platforms this year as major online retailers have begun to reach a much wider base of consumers – people who haven’t ever shopped much online, but have been forced to during recent months out of personal health concerns. Many of them will almost certainly continue to make use of e-commerce now that they have tried it out, at least to some extent, making e-commerce an essential sales channel for SINFIT products. TruLife has the network, team, experience, and resources to dramatically augment our e-commerce performance.”
SINFIT branded products registered over $2.2 million in global sales in 2019, and are now approved for sale and available for purchase on the Walmart.com and Amazon.com e-commerce platforms as well as in over 2,500 GNC locations in North America and over 10,000 global physical and e-commerce stores across more than 10 countries around the world.
SINFIT products as well-positioned relative to peers and to the long-term macro tailwind defining the functional foods market, which saw sales top $267 billion in February of this year on a global basis, with sales in the US reaching $63 billion, according to Euromonitor 2020. This trend is part of a larger supportive momentum in the general category, with global sales of organic food and drink topping $105 billion in 2018 (Ecovia 2019). U.S. organic food sales also reached $47.9 billion, up 5.9% in 2018 (OTA 2019). In 2019, 77% of U.S. adults used dietary supplements, an all-time high (CRN 2019). U.S. supplement sales are estimated to have reached $49.3 billion in 2019, up 6.2% (NBJ 2019).
About GenTech Holdings, Inc.:
GenTech Holdings, Inc. is a publicly traded company under the symbol GTEH. The Company launched a high-end Coffee Subscription service in early 2020 called Secret Javas, owns a Functional Food company, SINFIT Nutrition and recently closed its acquisition on Products-Groups’ “Hakuna Supply”.
Forward-Looking Statements This press release may contain forward-looking statements, including information about management’s view of GenTech, Inc.’s future expectations, plans and prospects. In particular, when used in the preceding discussion, the words “believes,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “anticipates,” or “may,” and similar conditional expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Any statements made in this news release other than those of historical fact, about an action, event or development, are forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the results of GenTech, its subsidiaries and concepts to be materially different than those expressed or implied in such statements. Unknown or unpredictable factors also could have material adverse effects on GenTech’s future results. The forward-looking statements included in this press release are made only as of the date hereof. GenTech cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Finally, GenTech undertakes no obligation to update these statements after the date of this release, except as required by law, and also takes no obligation to update or correct information prepared by third parties that are not paid for by GenTech.